High School Sports

Feel-good victory for Falcons

BRADENTON - Coaches have a tendency to nitpick. Marc Jones is no exception.

But even he was beaming Thursday afternoon at a windy Turner Fields.

Jones watched his Saint Stephen's boys soccer team pepper another opponent with a barrage of goals, with the latest attack coming during the Falcons' 5-1 win over St. Petersburg Admiral Farragut during a Class 2A-Region 3 quarterfinal.

Saint Stephen's (16-4-2), which will host Spring Hill Bishop McLaughlin in a regional semifinal game at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, has scored 17 goals in its past three playoff games.

On Thursday, they came in a variety of ways: a header by Marc Hartmann, typically a goalie, off of Ryley Delgado's corner kick; Delgado's spin-and-kick that landed in the back right corner of the net; and Jared Bellingar's goal that came courtesy of an Alex Walter pass that knifed its way through a variety of Blue Jackets.

"I am happy," Jones said. "We're playing as a team. I don't think we played at our best (Thursday), but hopefully when we play in the big games coming up, we'll start to step up."

The Falcons buried the Blue Jackets (9-9-2) with a bunch of goals, which began to mount late in the second half and carried into the first minutes of the second. Kevin Peterson's score preceded Hartmann's by a minute. And five minutes after Admiral Farragut dented the scoreboard, Delgado notched his pretty goal, which came less than 10 minutes into the second half.

"Before, we had a lot of injured players. Now, almost everyone is back," said Peterson, a sophomore who added an assist. "We're pretty much almost 100 percent healthy."

The Falcons will now try to advance past the regional semifinals, which is where their season ended last year at the hands of state semifinalist Tampa Prep.

Much to Jones' delight, Saint Stephen's won't be leaving Bradenton.

"We had a good turnout (Thursday) with the spectators which is nice, and hopefully we'll have the same next Tuesday," he said. "It makes a big difference having the school out here supporting us."